I grew up in a very chaotic and abusive family, my father and mother were born into chaotic families themselves and had very little skills in the way of parenting, loving, or emotional/self-regulation.
They did the best they could, but it left me and my brother very confused and unable to function in the world. My brother has had issues with substances most of his life and had issues with the law. In those times life was hectic... but I had a role. I was a peacekeeper, an emotional regulator, a person who came in after the storm and cleaned up. I was very good at this, except when it would become too much for me. That happened infrequently and I was quite happy.
As an adolescent my friend group started to change, I saw no value in people anymore. I was depressed. My addiction to self-injury started when I was 14 years old. Everything was too much for me and my brother was in jail. I felt isolated due to the shame of the situation. Shortly after I was raped, my brother went to college, and my father had a head trauma resulting in a hospitalization. After getting out his job sent him to a drug and alcohol rehab because they felt his "head injury" was actually related to benzo withdrawal.
Our whole family dynamic changed and I felt like I couldn't handle it. The only relief I got was from the sting of a razor blade... it was the only time I felt like I could take a breath. The rest of the time I felt like I was drowning in depression, anxiety, and isolation.
I left home shortly after my dad got back from rehab due to his inability to control his mood or temper. I moved in with a guy I meant online (should've tipped me off there). We were together for a year and a half and got engaged. All the while I had a pocket knife on my side, just in case it got to be "too much." I spent most of those days depressed and unable to get out of bed. At this time I dropped out of school and got my GED. I tried to work but was unable to, from the multiple psychiatric meds I was put on during a hospitalization from an attempted suicide.
I thought the chaos would be solved by love, that's what the fairy tales tell you, but the chaos followed me. One night during a huge argument we broke up, my immediate reaction was to try to slit my throat with my pocket knife. As I pressed it into my flesh I realized he wasn't worth it and left a long scratch on my neck.
I moved back home and my addiction had taken off. I woke up and cut my hands on a daily basis. I picked at my skin in an attempt to feel calm and okay. I was a mess, and being back in my family home with the chaos that I no longer could stand, it just wasn't working. So I lived in my car, I would park it at truck stops overnight. I stayed in a motel. All the while using my addiction to cope with the world. I was convinced that self-harm was the solution.
I was defective and this is what I have to do to survive. I am not cut out for this world. (All the lies I told myself to fuel my addiction.
I was convinced I had nothing to give, I was worth nothing, I was bad and disgusting and a victim to everyone and everything. All the things that were done to me, were because I somehow deserved it. I didn't deserve to eat, or be happy, or be loved. I had a vagina and that's all the men wanted, so I let them use me, telling myself that this was all I could get in life, so I might as well take it. I felt like I was in a living hell.
A "boyfriend" of mine had told me he didn't love me over the phone. At that exact moment, I was already cutting myself from a previous "discretion" of mine. I cut so deep and so hard that my flesh broke open. It literally looked like someone was doing surgery on my leg.
I immediately panicked I didn't mean to do this much damage. I knew I needed to go to the hospital but I was scared they were going to commit me and I was not a fan of the psych hospital. So I put some duct tape on my leg, elevated it and went to bed.
6 hours later I woke up, feeling wet like I had peed the bed.
I looked down and my bed was saturated with blood. It looked like someone was murdered. I ran to grab a towel and drops of blood flew off me leaving a trail. I called my best friend at the time and he told me to go to the ER and just lie to them so that I didn't get committed, which I did.
They didn't buy my story, but they also didn't commit me. A very nice social worker told me that my story didn't seem right, she told me that she was a mother and could sense I needed some help. She gave me her card and told me to call her if I needed anything.
I left the hospital and went to throw my beloved pocket knife in the river. After I did I called that social worker and told her I lied, I had heard about an intensive outpatient program for mental health that I would like to go to.
I ended up being at that intensive outpatient for 5 months. I had become motivated and convinced that my life had to change, or I would die.
Those first months were tough, trying to struggle with not having the only coping mechanism I had made it difficult to deal with the world.
After I was discharged from the program my counseling staff recommended I go to a 12-step program in my area. It is listed at the beginning of the telephone book.That was 7 years ago.
I celebrated my 6th anniversary in March and I couldn't be happier. I became pregnant with my first daughter shortly after my last relapse and she is 5 years old now.
I went to nursing school and became a licensed practical nurse (I have a career?!) I have a support group of friends who I can call anytime day or night whenever I need them. I have fixed relationships with my family in ways that I have never thought possible.
I also have made it my work to help people like me. I have worked in mental health and drug and alcohol the whole time I have been a nurse. To this day I work with addicts and alcoholics like myself.
Life is still hard, and I still have my challenges but when I was in my active addiction I felt like every day I was actively dying and now that I am in recovery I feel like every day I am actively living.
I try my best to remain in the present and when I fall short, I accept my humanness and flaws. It's not "perfect" but it's way more than I ever thought possible.
I now have 2 daughters and most of the time I actually pass as normal! I can't tell you how grateful I am to have been given the gift of recovery. Whoever reads this and finds themselves in this, I hope you realize you are stronger than you think. You got this!
*A life after addiction IS possible, and our stories are proof.*